Obama Says Big Three Exec Pay "Out Of Line"

When executives in any industry start leaping tall buildings in a single bound, then I'll be the first to back their Superman sized pay packages. Everyone of these guys claims he is indispensable, until the next guy shows up, who proceeds to trumpet the same thing.

Instead of worrying so much about "legacy costs", we need to think a lot harder about whether or not we can afford to pay sums so exorbitant they border on the obscene for "legacy mindsets".

Barack Obama and I seem to see eye to eye on this.

There are quotes on this floating around the internet, but I don't think these tidbits adequately reflect the tone of the conversation. I've taken the time to transcribe a part of the interview Obama had with Tom Brokaw on NBC's Meet The Press so you can see for yourself, unfiltered, exactly how your next president thinks:

[The following is from the video above beginning at the 5:03 mark]

Tom Brokaw: But under that organization, or any organization that you settle on, should the current management get to stay in their jobs?

Barack Obama: Here's where I'll, I'll say, that it may not be the same for all the companies. But what I think we need to put an end to is the "head in the sand" approach to the auto industry that has been prevalent for decades now.

I think, in fairness, you have seen some progress made incrementally in many of these companies. They have been building better cars now than they were 10 or 15 or 20 years ago. They are making some investments in the kind of green technologies and the new batteries that will allow us to create plug-in hybrids.

What we haven't seen is a sense of urgency and the willingness to make tough decisions, and what we still see are executive compensation packages for the auto industry that are out of line compared to their competitors, their Japanese competitors who are doing a lot better.

Now, its not unique to the auto industry. We've seen that across the board. Certainly we saw it on Wall Street.

And part of what I'm hoping to introduce, as the next president, is a new ethic of responsibility, where we say, that if you're laying off workers, the least you could do when you're making 25 million dollars a year is give up some of your compensation and some of your bonuses. Figure out ways in which workers maybe have to take a haircut but they can still keep their jobs, they can still keep their healthcare, they can still stay in their homes.

That kind of notion of shared benefits and burdens is something that I think has been lost for too long and is something I'd like to see restored.

The thing I like best about this outsider president-elect, who has had to put the blinders on in order to look past the distractions of life and get where he is today, is his lack of allegiance to political dogma and his utter and complete conviction to preserving the dignity and humanity of his citizens.

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